Can petty Parliament grow up into the big issues?

Senior ministers have been abroad on national business: trade and climate change. Doing such business well needs a firm, broadly agreed national foundation. Can Parliament measure up?

Not if you judge it by the National-Labour petty points-scoring on swearing-in day last Tuesday.

Shadow leader of the House Simon Bridges withdrew National’s agreement the previous day to back Trevor Mallard for Speaker to leverage an increase in select committee numbers above what he had proposed pre-election.

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Jacinda Ardern’s big “wellbeing” opportunity

Jacinda Ardern’s intricately-interlocked ministry is in place. The BIMs have been delivered. One will likely open a door to a wide new space Ardern will want to drive into.

A BIM is officials’ “briefing to the incoming minister”. In 2014 ministers heavily redacted many, which reflected badly on officials’ supposed party-political independence. Earlier this year officials briefed ministers on Winston Peters’ superannuation.

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A turning point in our international positioning?

Usually domestic matters are top of mind for a Prime Minister. But whoever is Prime Minister — still unknown at the time of writing — will face what may be the biggest foreign policy challenge in a generation.

This will be so whether New Zealand First chooses a two-bloc arrangement — National plus New Zealand First versus Labour plus Greens — or a three-way deal with Labour plus Greens.

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The big issues beyond the coalition gavotte

While politicians dance their coalition gavotte, there is time to ponder big issues.

Election campaigns foreshorten policy horizons from causes to symptoms in pursuit of here-and-now votes.

But the looming 2020s are likely to continue the digital reshaping of our lives and require major policy adjustments in tax, regulation, economic management and social services, assistance and equity.

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Transformation, big tweaks or steady does it?

Here’s Labour’s tax slogan: “Let’s do this but not yet and maybe not at all.”

Last week Labour pushed the panic button — a week after Steven Joyce’s backfired panicky attempt to dig a big hole in Grant Robertson’s fiscal numbers.

Helped from the sidelines by Winston Peters demanding Labour come clean, Joyce’s “show us the numbers” tax assault forced a Labour retreat to safe ground. National might want Joyce as campaign chair next time after all.

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